UPDATES in red! Lots of new information has come from a new, more in-depth article on EW.com.
On the eve of the San Diego Comic-Con, my copy of Entertainment Weekly just arrived in the mail and I see in that Marvel used the pages of Entertainment Weekly‘s Comic-Con edition to announce a new initiative in their publishing platform. Presented with a piece by Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada (right),it’s been dubbed Marvel NOW! and launching in October, Marvel Comics plans a line wide launch (or relaunch). Editor in Chief Axel Alonso is quoted as saying:
“This ain’t no reboot, It’s a new beginning!”
Details are sparse in the Entertainment Weekly article, but they do say that Marvel plans to launch/relaunch a “number of Marvel’s titles with new creative teams.” Announced in the magazine were three of these titles:
- Uncanny Avengers - written by Rick Remender, art by John Cassaday – Shipping in October, a direct spinoff from Avengers vs. X-Men, Remender says, “It’s a bridge book, something that can delve into both worlds. It has a natural purpose for existing after AvX, where we can focus on human-mutant relations. The broad strokes are: Captain America comes out of AvX and recognizes that he hasn’t done enough to help the mutants.” According to Entertainment Weekly, “the book will … include heavy-hitters like Cap, Thor, and Wolverine, but Remender is also excited to focus on some less well-known characters, like Cyclops’ little brother Havok. ‘Havok’s always been the black sheep rock-and-roller of the Summers family. He can’t do that anymore. You’re going to see Havok become one of the biggest players in the Marvel Universe.’”
- All New X-Men - written by Brian Michael Bendis, art by Stuart Immonen – Shipping in November, the rumors of Bendis taking over the X-Men appear to be true. We saw an image of Jean Grey yesterday, and it appears that is indeed her as Bendis uses time travel to bring the original five X-Men to the present day as Bendis describes, “It’s not a time travel story like Back to the Future. It’s a time travel story like Pleasantville. Here’s the big question that the original X-Men are gonna be faced with: We’re gonna grow up, and this is what we’re going to get? That is not acceptable.”
- Avengers - written by Jonathan Hickman, art by Jerome Opena – Shipping in December, Hickman picks up the Avengers reins from Bendis has he expands the scope of The Avengers. Hickman is quoted as saying “It’s not six Avengers, It’s 18 or more.” The new title will be bi-weekly and will be a combination of one-shot stories and longer, “galaxy spanning multi-issue arcs” as they protect the entire universe and become an Avengers for the 21st century. “The obvious solution is for the heroes to become something bigger and larger, a more appropriate response to an ever more dangerous time.”
For those of you were around last year, this may sound familiar. DC Comics relaunched their entire publishing line in September 2011 with The New 52, which was aimed at bringing in new readers by featuring 52 new #1 issues and a nearly total clean continuity slate.
So what does this all mean? From our point of view it looks as if the higher ups at Marvel Comics have watched the apparent “success” DC Comics has enjoyed coming out of the New 52 and are looking to replicate it for themselves using Marvel’s own unique spin. Notice I put “success” in quotes because how you or I may define success may differ from how executives at DC (or Warner Bros.) or Marvel (or Disney) define it. While DC has shown an increase in sales out of the gate, and there have been some high quality comics to come out of The New 52 with big numbers (most notably Batman), as the months roll on we’ve seen titles get canceled, creative team reshuffling, sales numbers decline back towards pre-New 52 levels, and many questions about the overall quality of the entire line published by DC Comics.
It’s unknown how wide this relaunch will be, as Entertainment Weekly was light on the details, but if it is indeed a line wide re-launch there are some immediate questions. Since Alonso said it’s not a reboot and it appears that Uncanny Avengers spins out of Avengers vs. X-Men, it appears that Marvel NOW! seems to be an attempt by Marvel to honor the history and stories of the Marvel Universe by avoiding a total continuity reboot, and at the same time, relaunch their line with new #1 issues. With the three titles announced spread out over 3 months, it could be assumed that Marvel is looking to spread this relaunch out over months to extend the longevity of the sales increase. In other words, Marvel looks to want to have their cake and eat it too. Rumors have been swirling for months about creative team shake ups with key creators such as Bendis and Hickman nearing the end of their runs on their respective books. It appears that the volleyball rotation is on, with Hickman taking the Avengers and Bendis taking the X-Men. Will there be more creative team changes? Will Rick Remender, who has enjoyed huge critical and sales success with Uncanny X-Force, be adding Uncanny Avengers to his workload, or will this new book come at the expense of Uncanny X-Force? Time will tell.
We’ll continue to post whatever information Marvel reveals and we’re working on talking with Marvel’s editorial leadership to see if we can get more answers, so stay tuned as we continue to cover the announcement of Marvel NOW!
Update! Quesada talking about the promo art, “There are some costume changes. There are some new character attitudes. Some characters may be changing their identities altogether. There’s a reason Sue Storm is there. And why there’s a floating robot near Hulk. We’re trying a lot of fun and new different things, we’re exposing characters who we’ve had in our toy chest for a long time.”
Unfortunately, my scanner is busted, so I took pics of the page from and zoomed in on the important bits, you can see the full page and zooms here: